The action of drifting, when the rear slip angle of a car is greater that the front slip angle and a loss of traction occurs between tires and track, can occur in different types of auto racing. This may be unintentional, with drivers either spinning off the track or being able to rectify the over-steering that caused the drift, or intentionally, with drivers using the technique to gain an advantage. In recent years, drifting has developed into a recognized motorsport in its own right, with drivers intentionally over-steering to get their cars to slide sideways while still being in control. Drifting competitions are held in many countries around the world, where competitors are judged by a set of criteria which may include speed and angle, as well as adherence to the line through corners which is set for each competition and amount of smoke created. In some competitions audience response and driver showmanship are taken into account when selecting a winner.
Drifting as a sport is believed to have originated in Japan, with motorcycle and car racing champion Kunimitsu Takahashi being considered to be the “father of drifting” as, in the 1970s, he created many of the original drifting techniques still used today. Takahashi’s drift techniques were picked up by Keiichi Tsuchiya who took to practicing his moves on mountainous passes. He was given the nickname of “Drift King” for the part he played in establishing drifting as a motorsport, and for his use of drifting in standard racing events. The video (Pluspy) focusing on Tsuchiya’s drifting skills continues to inspire today’s drivers.
Sponsored by the Japanese drifting magazine Option, one of the first drifting events in the United States took place at the Willow Springs Raceway in California. The sport has gone from strength to strength since then with the premier series in the United States being Formula D. This exciting championship series consists of seven events that take place at race tracks across the country. Judges take into account execution and style and so the winner will not necessarily be the competitor who finishes the course in the quickest time.
Tracks in the US that currently host drifting events include the Long Beach GP street circuit; Road Atlanta in Braselton, GA; Palm Beach International Raceway; Wall Speedway, NJ; Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA; Las Vegas Motor Speedway; and the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, CA. Described as the merging of extreme sports with traditional racing, drift racing offers plenty of action and excitement – for both drivers and spectators.
Las Vegas will once again be the host city for NASCAR’s Champion’s Week – the grand finale of the 2013 racing season. Taking place on 3-6 December the program features a host of events with the highlight being Friday’s celebration with NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson and the rest of the top ten drivers being honored for their achievements at the official closing event of the season. Fans can look forward to mingling with NASCAR drivers and their back up teams, getting autographs, viewing the cars and loading up on all sorts of NASCAR merchandise and memorabilia.
Drivers will have the red carpet rolled out for them to walk through the crowd to the stage when the week’s activities kick off on Wednesday with a FanFest on the Third Street Stage on Fremont Street. All 13 Chase drivers will be participating in the event which is free and open to the public, starting at 1:30pm One of the highlights of the FanFest will be a Deal or No Deal-styled show and six fans are in line to win big prizes as part of the event with the fan paired with the winning team walking off with tickets to Friday’s banquet and other great treats.
Thursday features the Myers Brothers 2013 Awards Luncheon at Encore Las Vegas, during which the Champion Sponsor Awards; Champion Crew Chief Award; Most Popular Driver Award, Myers Brothers Award and Buddy Shuman Award will be presented. Jeff Gordon received the coveted Myers Brothers Award in 2012 for his outstanding contributions to the sport and fans are no doubt keen to find out who the 2013 winner will be.
Starting at Miracle Mile, the NASCAR Victory Lap offers fans the opportunity to interact with drivers while getting a feel for what it’s like to be at a NASCAR start line. Heading north on Las Vegas Boulevard, the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion will perform a burnout at the Spring Mountain Road intersection, followed by the remaining Sprint Cup drivers performing donuts around the turn. Heading south, drivers will make a pit stop in front of the Fountains of Bellagio where members of the Drive for Diversity Crew Development Program will perform pit stop duties. Continuing south to the East Harmon Avenue intersection, all Sprint cup drivers will perform donuts before heading toward the finish line back at Miracle Mile.
Be sure to watch out for the NASCAR vehicles that will be appearing all week throughout Las Vegas, offering free giveaways, interactive video games and other fun auto racing activities as part of the NASCAR Champions Week